BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

A Changing Planet and Global Health



There is compelling evidence that our planet- Earth is changing in many different ways that affect human existence. The various forms and range of human activities continue to alter the physical and chemical characteristics and composition of the Earth’s land, water and air. These changes, which negatively affect global health, include weather variations, heat waves, heavy precipitation, flooding, droughts, storms, rise in sea levels and air pollution. Although the effects of a changing planet are global issues, their specific incidence and impact vary across geographic regions and populations. Given the projected world population of 10 billion people by 2050, it is crucial to ask and comprehend the “what, why, how and where” questions about the Earth’s alterations so as to reduce the impacts and the potential population burden on the planet. To save, sustain and efficiently manage Earth, there must be an understanding of these changes and how they influence our (all) lives, particularly, in relation healthcare and global health.

The major and most common terms used to describe our changing planet are climate change and global warming. Climate change refers to the changes in the global climate, resulting from increasing average global temperature while Global warming describes the long-term patterns of rising global temperature- sometimes, these terms are used interchangeably. How exactly does a changing climate affect global health? Technically, the increase in human-made carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere creates a “greenhouse effect,” causing the world to become warmer. This warmth results in the melting of the arctic ice sheets and rise in sea levels which can cause flooding.  Flooding in-turn leads to major public and global health emergencies such as homelessness, infectious diseases outbreak, poverty, and psychological trauma. Additionally, the warmer the earth becomes, the more unstable weather patterns become and the more regular violent storms, droughts, heat waves, and wild fires become. For instance, wild fires across Canada consume an average of 2.5 million hectares yearly; destroy thousands of properties and render hundreds people homeless. Higher CO2 in the atmosphere increases ocean acidity, causing harm to marine life. Droughts damage farmlands and hinder food production, leading to poverty, malnutrition, and starvation.

The fields of global health, as well as geological and geographical sciences have been instrumental in the advancement of knowledge in climate change, environmental pollution, sustainability, and the impacts of our rapidly changing planet, economy and society. The consequences of our changing planet increase conflict and create political, economic and social instability- all of which are detrimental to human health. The scientific evidence of the impacts of climate change abounds and so much is happening on a global level to counter these impacts. About 196 countries have signed the Paris Agreement, committing signatories to work toward keeping temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). As individuals, choosing options that reduce carbon footprint are beneficial to our health and that of our planet. For example, walking or biking rather than driving prevents burning fossil fuels, provides exercise, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Also, opting for renewable energy prevents air pollution and results in fewer cases of asthma and lung cancer.

Fact is, it is impossible to live in an unhealthy planet and live a healthy life because a changing planet is a changing health. Therefore, it is our responsibility to do our part to take care of our planet home, Mother Earth.


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